With very few days remaining for the conduct of party primaries into elective positions across the country based on INEC guidelines, the case for Gombe Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship primaries seems to take the center stage in all political discuss concerning the State both within and outside the State.
The PDP in Gombe State, though popular, lost power for the first time in 16 years during the 2019 election, largely due to some avoidable mistakes and had since then been playing the opposition.
Having held power for an uninterrupted 16 years (2003 – 2019) the party sure had a complete grip on the State, as such, it was and is still well structured in Gombe State.
However, as the march towards 2023 gathers momentum, having been onlookers in governance in the last three years, PDP now has an opportunity to regain it’s lost glory and power.
It is however, evident that the party’s journey to victory can only be achieved when it remains united in it’s process of bringing out its flag bearer.
This process should also provide an all accepted party Governorship candidate that will lead it to victory during the 2023 general elections.
But if recent happenings in the party is anything to go by, a raging dust, if not handled well, could spell doom for the party’s quest to return to the Government House in Gombe in 2023.
Comfortably sitting on the driving seat is the Chairman, Abnon Kwaskebe and the State party leader and immediate past Governor of the State, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo; all eyes are on them to mobilize the party delegates to chose one from the following contenders:
Alhaji Mohammed Jibirin Danbarde, former CEO, Suntrust Bank; Alhaji Jamilu Isiaku Gwamna, former MD, Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO); Dr. Abubakar Ali Gombe, former minister of Health; Dr Babayo Ardo, Permanent Secrtary, Federal ministry for Niger Delta and AVM Shehu Adamu Fura (retd).
These aspirants are categorized as old and new comers, spoilers and saviours based on the time and the effect they made in the party which to an extent will determine their acceptance by the ‘almighty delegates’ and to a greater extent, the leadership of the party who holds the ‘aces’.
The new comers are seen as more desperate and want to get the ticket, that is, ‘reap where they did not sow’. By these actions, many people are already predicting the end of the PDP if the main actors don’t remove selfish interest in favour of party and State interest.
One very important factor to be considered is those labouring and sustaining the party at least in the last one year, and the leader of the party, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo easily comes to mind, followed by the State party chairman, Abnon Kwaskebe as well as Mohammed Jibrin Barde, the front line contender for the sole ticket.
Some other aspirants have made their different well meaning contributions to the party and the State in general while some, despite their ‘big status’, are relying on the back of some other prominent figures.
What is the strength and weaknesses of these aspirants in the face of the forth coming party primaries in a couple of days?
Mohammed Jibrin barde (Danbarde). He is unarguably the first to declare his interest over a year ago and has since transverse the nook and crannies of the PDP in the State.
Apart from the party leader, Danbarde is known to have held a firm grip of the delegates having gone round the entire State and other humanitarian efforts on communities.
Some analysts have asserted that because of the factors above, if the primaries were to hold now, Danbarde will definitely take the day baring any fundamental change.
Another plus that Danbarde enjoys is how he dazzles his listeners with data and statistics of various negative indices that concerns the State.
DanBarde is a known achiever in terms of serving the party because of his early entrance into the race, more so that he has all what it takes to wrestle power from the incumbent APC Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya.
A yet to be confirmed report has it that during a courtesy call on the party in their Secretariat, the Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Abubakar, stated that it is Mohammed DanBarde who stood by the party throughout, doing a lot for it, as such, it will be unfair for the party to file another candidate.
However, DanBarde is blunt to a fault, shifting grounds may not be easy with him especially when he is convinced of what he is after. This is a trait of many successful businessmen.
Dr. Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna. Unarguably popular too, is a traditional title holder in Gombe Emirate, (The Sardauna of Gombe). He is reputed to have touched the lives of many youths in the State through employment opportunities, a known philanthropist that has been involved in many humanitarian activities across different communities and individuals in the State.
He had long been in the political space of the State, commanding a lot of supporters. He has also gone round the State very recently, interacting with major stakeholders of the party, selling himself and making a lot of beautiful promises.
He also has the sympathy of many Local Government Chairmen and cabinet members that served during Dankwambo’s tenure and if this is anything to go by, he may have a sizable number of delegates.
However, it is not easy to forget the role he played during the 2019 general elections when he along with his supporters switched tent to the opposition APC then, after loosing the party’s Governorship primaries.
It was that act as well as his alleged jubilation after Dankwambo’s failure to clinch his Senate seat that might not be easy for Dankwambo to forgive despite having ‘reconciled’ publicly.
Jamilu’s action during the 2019 election was a show of revenge on Dankwambo for not allowing him (Jamilu) have his way during the 2019 PDP Governorship primaries.
This, to many ardent PDP supporters, is an ‘unforgivable sin’ that might greatly affect him during the PDP primaries, more so, his return to the party is barely three months at the moment.
The biggest of them all is how forgiven would the leader of the party, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo be, seeing how serious he was with his ambition to be a Senator.
Two major issues were there, the outward Governorship betrayal and seriously working against Dankwambo’s Senate ambition. Some sources say Jamilu went as far as making a call to Dankwambo to taunt him after the release of the result of the Senatorial election for Gombe North zone.
Alhaji Abubakar Ali Gombe. Highly favoured to win the PDP primaries, but one of the late comers into the party. He was a one time minister for health, a former Chief Medical Director of Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, when it was Federal Medical Centre and a statesman.
One of the points that highly favoured him to be Governor in Gombe State are his marriage to the daughter of the immediate past (Late) Emir of Gombe which most likely would have secured the endorsement of the Emirate.
An authoritative source disclosed that Dr. Abububakar Ali Gombe was given an offer to contest the Governorship by a very influential person in the State in 2019 but he declined the offer.
It is widely believed that if he had consented, he was the only person that had the popularity to beat the current Governor at the polls because he was regarded as a more indigenous person than Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya.
Another sympathy Dr. Ali Gombe would have had is that in 1991, under the old Bauchi State, his father, Alhaji Ali Gombe, contested the Governorship election with Alhaji Dahiru Deba but lost, as such, it would have been like a compensation to to his late father to allow him govern the State now.
His strength now relies on how well he can penetrate the political circle, convince the delegates to consider his vision and make him the party’s flag bearer.
Overall, he is a well respected gentleman that would have enjoyed massive support not only during electioneering process but also if given the Governorship mandate.
Dr. Babayo Ardo. He has been well known in the State’s civil service as well as the Federal civil service where he is the current Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The resources available to him and his willingness to spend is what many see as what could work for him on the delegates if well coordinated and this will only be possible if the delegates don’t take advantage of that opportunity and they will likely take.
Though among the late entrants, just few weeks to the party primaries, Dr. Ardo has very strong backers in person of the PDP National Treasurer, Alhaji Ahmed Yayari, who is also seen to be doing the bidding of Senator Goje because they are all from Akko Local Government Area of the State. This is notwithstanding that Goje is from the APC.
His greatest weakness is the obvious allegation that apart from joining the contest very late, he has not in any way laboured nor funded the party.
AVM Shehu Adamu Fura (rtd). For Air Vice Marshall Shehu Adamu Fura, he just launched himself in the political arena few months ago and few weeks after, he declared his Governorship ambition very few weeks before the primaries.
Well known philanthropic businessman, however, many do not see him as being politically ripe for elective position yet talk less of joining the PDP Governorship primaries.
He has done very little or nothing to really have a structure in the PDP as such, except for some magic (if it really exists) he may not go anywhere except he launch himself in the political arena for consideration in the future.
The onus is highly resting on the party leader, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and other party executives, particularly the chairman, Abnon Kwaskebe to allow a fair playing ground for all.
For Dankwambo, what the PDP supporters are asking from him is to really play a fatherly role in the entire process.
However, the two aspirants that may likely be in the forefront of the contest are Mohammed Jibrin Danbarde and jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna with so much advantage tilting towards DanBarde.
The major stake now left for the PDP to rearrange itself and confront Governor Inuwa yahaya, and they definitely have the capacity to clinch power if all the other candidates will play well by supporting whoever win the primaries.